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Having some fun at Relay for Life

By Staff | Aug 21, 2016

There is just something kind of special about the annual Relay for Life event in Faribault County.

Really special.

It is like a fun community picnic, only with a serious purpose. That purpose, of course, is raising funds to fight cancer. And, this year they raised between $70,000 and $75,000. The final total is not in yet.

But, there is so much more to it than just that. It is like a family reunion, only the family is made up of survivors of cancer, and folks who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease.

Haven’t we all been touched by the “Big C” in one way or another? I know I have. My father, mother, father-in-law and mother-in-law not to mention my younger brother all had cancer. Only my mother is a survivor.

Relay for Life is a time for folks to gather and share their stories about cancer. It is a time to remember those who are gone, and celebrate those who are still here. You don’t have to be a cancer survivor or a member of a Relay for Life team member to attend the event, you know. Any one can come to this and enjoy it.

You might think it is a somber and sad ceremony. It is a little. But, there is also a lot of food, fun and entertainment. Yep, it is a party but with meaning.

If you have been to any of the Relay for Life events over the past 22 years, you know what I mean. But maybe you have never been to one. Or it has been years since you went.

If you were not at the one this year, held on Friday, Aug. 12, here are some things you missed.

You missed seeing the Mz Relay Pageant, and that means you didn’t see John Oswald, Tharen Hough and Jeremy Coxworth dressed as women and dancing. OK, maybe that was one thing you really didn’t want to see. But, trust me, it was hilarious. However, I may need some therapy to get those images out of my head.

You missed seeing Elmore auctioneer Jeff Balcom getting his long locks shaved off. I saw him around the fairgrounds earlier in the evening, a big guy with long curly hair. Later he auctioned off the rights to someone to help shave off his hair for the Locks of Love program. The winning bid was $150, which went to Relay for Life.

You missed hearing Mike Schuster, of Easton, give an incredible speech about his personal battle with cancer. It was emotional and inspiring. Remember Mike? We did a story on him in last year’s Relay for Life special section. He is the guy who did the Iron Butt trip on his motorcycle, hitting 49 states in 10 days, right after he finished chemo therapy.

You missed a great meal (pork chop sandwich and sweet corn) and some wonderful entertainment from Patty Hague, Shelly Berndt and the P-31 group.

You missed being in the new candlelight lap around the track. Just after dark, everyone there, not just survivors, was given a candle and lit it, then walked one lap in total silence. I mean, I had tingles down the back of my neck just watching it.

You missed hearing stories about people who have had cancer and beat it. Some of them have been cancer-free survivors for more than 50 years. Incredible.

If you missed it, you missed a lot. But, don’t worry, I am sure the dedicated volunteers who put so much work into this event are already planning the one for next year.

Don’t miss it again.